DNGMonochrome converts color DNGs into full-blown monochrome DNGs. Mainly developed for Leica DNGs, DNGMonochrome can also handle DNGs from selected Canon, Sony, Nikon and Olympus cameras if you first convert the RAW file to DNG.
The monochrome result DNGMonochrome produces (when no filters are used), is based on the luminance portion of the sensor, under the assumption that interpolating based on luminance, without full color interpolation, leads to better results (resolution, sharpness, color noise) than a color interpolated result turned black & white. If this assumption is actually correct is still open for debate - let me say that after developing by now many iterations of this software, I have my doubts. I do like the end result from a purist point of view though, knowing for sure it's the closest I can get to a 'true' monochrome result from a color camera.
For the full back story and a more technical explanation of the ins and outs, have a look here
In addition, DNGMonochrome can also interpolate directly on the red or blue channel and use these results - mixed in with the regular luminance result - to create filter effects.
This new version (1.0.0) of DNGMonochrome offers several new algorithms for interpolation, an extensive module to battle green divergence, and can interpolate selections of the photo with different algorithms (yes, you can interpolate one photo with one, two or three algorithms, all in the same photo - I do believe that's a first and a bit nutty).
Changed are also the view options. No more tiny tiles of photo. DNGMonochrome now uses the same viewer as used in Falaphol
. It means you can zoom in and out (up till 800%), move the photo around, and overall get a much clearer view of the conversion, compared to the previous version of DNGMonochrome.
Some functionality is lost though. Since I was already 2 years behind my initial release schedule, I decided to freeze some of the functionality, in favor of a quicker release. So currently the gradient filtering has disappeared and the 50% image is limited to only color filtering (no noise reduction yet). I do hope to bring that back in a later release. For now the gradient filtering collided too much with the current functionality, which would mean weeks, possibly months, more delay to get them to work properly.
And some other functionality I scrapped: the current version can't work anymore with modded cameras that had their Bayer filter removed. There are other options out there for these cameras, and it wasn't really what DNGMonochrome was about in the first place. Also the deblurring and the too extensive noise reduction are gone (not all of it). If you feel you do need that lost functionality, see the download section. At the bottom of that section, version 0.9.83 is still available for download.
Next on my list for updating is DNGDeblur
, so if you liked that part of DNGMonochrome, it can still be downloaded, and a newer version (when released - hopefully it won't take me another two years) will support more cameras.
No, you're not a bad photographer, nor is the software broken
As with the previous version: be aware that the default conversion in DNGMonochrome shows you a very flat and somewhat grayish black & white. It's the preview I call 'precooked'. The photo is only gamma corrected and will look quite dull. You can get to the 'cooked' version with the second button top left. The cooked presentation is how the photo will more or less turn out when you load it up in a RAW converter (which you should do, because the end result is still a DNG and needs 'developing', despite the fact no interpolation is necessary anymore). I designed these two presentations (precooked and cooked), because the precooked preview is much faster to work with. And don't be fooled by the brightness and contrast sliders at the bottom. These sliders only work on the preview (and only in precooked), but are not stored. So even if you up the brightness or the contrast, that effect is not saved with the DNG. Note that this is only true for the bottom sliders. Changes you make with the sliders on the right (color filtering and noise reduction) áre saved.
Be aware also that when working with the precooked preview (the dull grayish one), the noise in the photo is harder to detect. For a good impression of all aspects, switching to 'cooked', once satisfied, isn't a bad idea.
On noise reduction and sharpening
I was doubting if I should scrap noise reduction completely. In the previous version it was all a bit too much. In the end I decided to leave a part of it in. The logic behind it is simple: only in DNGMonochrome can you still reduce luminance noise and color noise separately, since it handles the full color DNG. After the conversion to monochrome DNG, you're more limited and sort of stuck with any noise produced by the red or blue plane. That might still be handled quite well by your preferred noise reducer, but why not tackle it up front? The effect of red and blue noise reduction is minimal though. It's very difficult to see, unless you have used the color filters. Not illogical, since the reds and blues are replaced by greens. However... all the algorithms (LMMSE especially) do use the red and blue plane to determine what the greens should be on a red or blue sensel. So despite red and blue being scrapped in the end, they aren't useless to the algorithms (and thus noise reduction on red and blue can have an effect). Noise reduction on the luminance has a bigger effect. But realize: once the noise reduction is baked into the conversion, you can't get rid of it in your RAW converter. So I would advise handling the luminance noise reduction in your RAW converter.
There is no sharpening in DNGMonochrome. That's really something for your RAW converter. Just be aware that these conversions seem to fare better with less sharpening than a color DNG. I noticed the default settings for my color photos in Lightroom are usually too high for the monochrome conversion.
DNGMonochrome currently supports DNGs from:
o Leica M8
o Leica M9
o Leica M (typ 240 / 262)
o Leica M-D (typ 262)
o Leica M10
o Leica M10-P
o Leica M10-D
o Leica M10-R
o Leica Q
o Leica Q2
o Leica S2
o Leica S (typ 006)
o Leica S (typ 007)
o Leica S3 [NOTE: only in the 64-bit version]
o Leica SL
o Leica SL2
o Leica T
o Leica TL
o Leica TL2
o Leica CL
o Leica X Vario (typ 107)
And after converting the RAW files to DNG (e.g. with Adobe DNG Converter) also from:
o Canon EOS 350D
o Canon EOS 400D
o Canon EOS 450D
o Canon EOS 500D
o Canon EOS 550D
o Canon EOS 30D
o Canon EOS 40D
o Canon EOS 50D
o Canon EOS 60D
o Canon EOS 1D Mark II
o Canon EOS 1D Mark III
o Canon EOS 5D
o Canon EOS 5D Mark II
o Canon EOS 5D Mark III
o Canon EOS 6D
o Canon EOS 7D
o Nikon D1
o Nikon D2X
o Nikon D3
o Nikon D3X
o Nikon D200
o Nikon D800
o Nikon D800E
o Olympus E-300
o Olympus E-500
o Sony A7
o Sony A7S
Once more to avoid confusion: DNGMonochrome does not support Canon, Nikon, Sony or Olympus native files. You have to convert them to DNG first. Google 'Adobe DNG Converter'. And note that DNGMonochrome expects the full RAW (converted to DNG), not a downscaled version. Those are untested and if they work, you're lucky.
All the monochrome DNGs converted from the cameras in the list were tested by me on DNG import in Lightroom. So I can guarantee the monochrome DNG works in at least one RAW converter. Your favorite RAW converter - other than Lightroom - might not be so cool. I have not tested any of the produced monochrome DNGs in any other converter.
You can also use Falaphol to view the monochrome DNG. Falaphol can handle monochrome DNGs produced by DNGMonochrome (even if the camera wasn't a Leica - this is new since version 1.7.0, so if you are using Falaphol already, make sure you have a capable version).
One remark left: rotation (turning a portrait DNG so it presents properly) is a very nasty subject - I won't bore you with the details. Suffice it to say it's stuff of nightmares. Not the rotation itself, that's not that difficult, but to get it to work properly with the interpolation squares... that was almost not worth the effort. The previous version didn't bother and just presented you landscape, no matter what. In this new version I wanted that changed. Poor me. But since I couldn't find portrait test photos for all cameras in the list, portrait DNGs from a few cameras might give you trouble. If you do see strange stuff on rotated photos, shoot me an email, preferably with the DNG included.
If you want to read up on some more inside information (I do encourage you to do that, since especially the subject of green divergence can make or break the conversion) have a look here